PALM HARBOR — When former Innisbrook resident and Calvary Christian golfer Lee McCoy stood over his 4-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth hole of Innisbrook's Copperhead Course — his final hole of the round Friday at the Valspar Championship — he knew exactly what it meant. If he made it, he would improve to 3 over for 36 holes and likely make the cut.
He drained it and then gave a quick fist pump.
"I was well aware of what I needed to do," McCoy said. "That was a fun little 4-footer. Making the cut was obviously a goal of mine. Before the round I gave myself about a 15, 20 percent chance."
McCoy, a 22-year-old senior at Georgia, followed his opening-round 74 with par 71 on a blustery morning. He overcame three straight bogeys on the Snake Pit holes, Nos. 16-18. He had five birdies and five bogeys in his round.
By making the cut, McCoy ensured himself not only two more rounds, but money for a local charity. As an amateur he is unable to accept any winnings. But he can give whatever money he makes to charity. He plans on giving his money to 50 Legs, a Lithia-based group that provides prosthetic limbs for children and adults. It is run by Steve Chamberlain, who has been McCoy's trainer since he was 15.
"It's awesome," said Chamberlain, who followed McCoy on Thursday and Friday. "I'm a little sore walking around so much, but that's fine. It's all adrenaline now."
Different day, better result: Former Florida State golfer George McNeill had one of the low rounds of the day, 5-under 66. That was an eight-shot improvement over his opening-round 74. McNeill was 2 under through 36 holes, three shots behind leaders Steve Stricker and Will MacKenzie. He birdied his first three holes and had six birdies overall.
"It was just that I made more putts," McNeill said. "Pretty simple. I hit it okay (Thursday), but I didn't make anything. (Friday) I hit it okay and made a few more putts. Obviously, that's what you need to do."
Fear the beard: Graham DeLaet, the rare PGA Tour player who sports a full beard, was another who shot 5-under 66. He started his day with an eagle on the first hole and a birdie on No. 2. Then came three birdies on the final five holes to end up one shot back at 4-under 138. "I feel like this is a golf course I can do it on," he said. "You can't fake it around this place. You have to be hitting it solidly."
Quote of the day: "The claw's not necessarily going to keep working. Let's not get ahead of ourselves." — Will MacKenzie, who switched to a claw grip for putting and was tied for the lead after shooting 5-under 67.
Chip ins: Keegan Bradley, who was one of three first-round leaders, shot 8-over 79 and missed the cut by one at 4-over 146. His Friday round included three double bogeys and four bogeys. It was 12 shots worse than Thursday's 67. … Chesson Hadley, who was one shot out of the first-round lead, shot 5-over 76 and was 2 over for the tournament. … Wind is clearly playing a factor. The 5-under 36-hole lead tied for the highest two-round leading score in tournament history (2008).